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Famed sled dog race gets under way in Alaska

From Tracy Sabo and Laura Bernardini, CNN
  • 62 teams are competing this year and will travel more than 1,000 miles
  • At stake is $50,400 and a new truck
  • The competition will end in Nome is going along for the ride! Rookie musher Angie Taggart will be filming her trek through Alaska for CNN. We will show her journey, from start to finish, in a couple of weeks. Taggart will take us behind the scenes and we'll be at the start line with her and taking the journey from Anchorage to Nome.

Anchorage, Alaska (CNN) -- Alaska's famed Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race officially gets under way Sunday after a ceremonial start to a 1,000-mile competition that takes mushers through some of the harshest conditions imaginable.

Sixty-two teams are competing this year and will travel more than 1,150 miles across the Arctic for a chance at $50,400 and a new truck.

They sped through Anchorage Saturday to the sounds of racing paws and cheering crowds.

An official "restart" of the race is set to take place Sunday in Willow, Alaska, about 70 miles north of Anchorage. The competition will end in Nome.

Iditarod begins in Alaska
  • Iditarod
  • Alaska

"You know, some people were put on earth to be lawyers, construction, you know whatever. I was put on earth to race, train and promote sled dog racing," said Lance Mackey, 40, who is gunning for his fifth consecutive win. He won the 2010 race in eight days, 23 hours, 59 minutes and 9 seconds.

Mackey's stepson, Cain Carter, is competing in the Iditarod for the first time this year.

The teams face strong winds and temperatures well below zero that will test the strength of the dogs and the stamina of their owners.

The Iditarod race from Anchorage to Nome first ran in 1973.

"This is my job. It is my hobby; it is my passion; it is everything that I love," Mackey said.